10 Items to Keep in Your Car for a Road Trip

If you’re considering a road trip off the beaten path, your first job is to make sure your car is in good working order. After that, it’s time to consider what to bring along.

Even if you’re not planning on leaving civilization, there are items that are always good to have at the ready.

Take a look at these 10 items to keep in your car if you’re leaving civilization and ask yourself if you might want to toss a few of these things into your car today — who knows? They could end up saving your life.

  1. Clothes, blankets, plastic bags

You don’t want to overload your vehicle, but putting an old sleeping bag and sweater into the trunk won’t make a significant difference to your gas mileage and their possible uses are numerous.

In addition to keeping you warm, a sleeping bag might become a makeshift shelter and a sweater could be refashioned into a bag. While you’re at it, grab some plastic garbage bags, too. They are surprisingly handy.Lighter

  1. Lighters

With smoking rates plummeting, the old question, “Do you have a light?” is increasingly being answered with a “no.” But lighters are great time savers.  People on TV rub sticks together to make fire … but trust us, it’s not as easy as they make it look.

Having a couple of lighters in your glove box or trunk could mean warmth and light in an emergency, and they sure beat sticks!

  1. Liquids

Water is heavy. A 20 gallon jug of water is going to affect your gas mileage. What’s more, in cold temperatures water will freeze and the container could crack. In searing heat, water left in a hot car gets rancid pretty quickly.

One workaround is bottled water — grab a couple medium-size bottles from the supermarket, and rotate them out when you go grocery shopping.

  1. Food

It might not be gourmet, but a couple processed food items could be lifesavers.  Pick something with a long shelf life and make sure it’s sealed properly.

The night you’re munching on half stale crackers isn’t going to rate as the best meal of your life, but in an emergency situation those crackers will probably taste pretty good.

  1. A Knife

Driving with a machete in the trunk is probably illegal and even a decent-size hunting blade could pose problems. A knife of some kind however is an invaluable tool, even if it’s just a pocket knife.

Another good option is an all-purpose tool that comes with everything from a mini saw to a small screwdriver. With some type of tool in your vehicle you might be able to wrangle your way out of a tricky situation and make it back to civilization.

  1. A Shovel or Spade

Road MapA common emergency situation faced by drivers is getting stuck in snow, mud, sand or a combination of all three.

Strong, lightweight, inexpensive folding shovels are available at most hardware stores and one of these little shovels might end up your hero. Even a garden spade could be useful in helping you dig out a wheel.

  1. Paper Maps

GPS devices are wonders of modern technology. But if your device is out of power, you’re not going anywhere.

A paper map doesn’t weigh much, but it could help you navigate over that mountain pass your GPS might not even know exists. +

  1. Pens and Paper

The humble ballpoint pen is ubiquitous. But it’s possible you might not have one in your car. If not, throw a few ballpoint pens in the glove compartment and consider grabbing a couple of markers as well.

You might need to leave a message on your car saying where you’ve gone, so don’t forget to grab a notebook or some paper as well.

  1. Pro Items

First Aid KitFirst-aid kits are easy to find, lightweight and inexpensive. Many car-sized fire extinguishers are likewise inexpensive. A five-dollar flashlight (don’t forget batteries!) has helped many a stranded motorist make it though a dark night.

A small plastic Jerry can with a bit of gas is a good choice if possible, while a tow strap and or tire repair kit round out the list if you have the space and budget.

  1. Common Sense

Where do you live? Where do you drive?  What’s the most common road scenario you find yourself in? What are your element enemies?

Think carefully about where you most often find yourself and choose the items that make the most sense. You can’t be prepared for everything and you can’t carry everything everywhere you go. But most of your driving is likely done within certain geographic parameters, which means you can make reasonably wise choices that suit you and your needs the best.

And of course, before any major road trip, be sure to have your car serviced at Searle’s Auto!

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